Women in Innovation Award 2024/25

Key Features

Women within UK registered micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can apply for a share of up to £4 million to develop their exciting and innovative ideas. The £75,000 grant also includes bespoke business support.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £4 million

Opens: 13th May 2024

Closes: 10th Jul 2024

Overview

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is offering up to 50 Women in Innovation Awards to women entrepreneurs within SMEs across the UK. The winners will receive a £75,000 grant and bespoke business support.

Scope

The aim of this competition is to fund and support a diverse portfolio of Women in Innovation Award winners:

  • who will be relatable role models for women from all backgrounds
  • from regions across the UK
  • who are solving a range of pressing societal, environmental and economic challenges
  • in a variety of innovation areas

Your project must identify clearly evidenced pressing societal, environmental or economic challenges, and how your project and innovation can help solve them.​

Applications can come from any area of innovation (where innovation is defined as the commercially successful exploitation of ideas) and be applied to any part of the economy.

We are looking for women who clearly explain how they will benefit from the full package of funding and support on offer and who can describe how this will add value to them and their business.

Innovate UK are particularly encouraging applications from women who:

  • are looking to develop a game changing novel idea or business innovation
  • have the potential, capability, experience and personal drive to become leaders in business innovation
  • want to be a role model for others, including in their region, sector and to young people
  • have a clear vision for their business
  • know what they are hoping to achieve from the award and how to measure success

As an award holder you will receive tailored business support, including but not limited to:

  • funding and finance options and how to access these
  • media and communications, for example, branding
  • developing new business models
  • evaluating market opportunities
  • finding new partners
  • growth and scale up
  • developing international collaborations and accessing global markets
  • business planning strategy

Role model work

Award holders will be required to volunteer as a role model for at least five days over the 12 month duration of the award. This is likely to generate interest in your stories and business.

A role model is a person perceived by others as setting an example of best practice which, if replicated, can enable the achievement of goals.

A role model is frequently associated with undertaking activities, including but not limited to:

  • mentoring
  • coaching
  • presentations
  • advice and guidance

A role model will help encourage and inspire others to enter a career in innovation and promote diversity and inclusion in innovation.

Portfolio approach

Innovate UK want to fund a variety of projects across different locations in the UK. We call this a portfolio approach.

Eligibility

Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request of up to £75,000
  • last for 12 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • start on 1 December 2024
  • end on 30 November 2025

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

Lead participant

To lead a project you must:

  • be a woman founder, co-founder or senior decision maker within a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) that has been registered on Companies House for at least 12 months
  • be a resident in the UK
  • attend two development days in 2025
  • be fully committed to volunteer as a role model for at least five days over the duration of the award

Applications from UK-registered social enterprises operating economically will be eligible if they meet all other criteria.

You are not eligible to apply for Women in Innovation 2024 – 2025 if you or anyone else from your business have previously received Innovate UK funding from:

  • Women in Innovation
  • Young Innovators Next Steps follow on funding
  • Innovate UK Award: Build

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Subcontracting costs must not exceed 50% of the grant funding amount.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

Innovate UK expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Number of applications

You can only make one application for yourself. Only one woman working within an organisation can apply.

The awards are for individuals, but this does not prevent you from working on the project with others.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Applicants must ensure that all of the proposed work within projects, both that in the UK and internationally, will comply with the UKRI guidance on the use of animals in research and innovation.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

You can make a maximum of two submissions to Innovate UK with any given proposal. If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be counted towards this maximum.

Exclusions

Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • are not led by a woman founder, co-founder or senior decision maker within a UK registered SME
  • have total project costs and a grant funding request over £75,000
  • attribute more than 50% of their costs to subcontractors
  • do not intend to use the full award package, for example, requesting just the funding and not the wider support package
  • have a negative impact on the environment or society
  • have a detrimental effect on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  • are unable to commit to two development days in 2025
  • are not able to fulfil at least five days of Role Modelling during the 12 month Award
  • have previously received Innovate UK funding from Women in Innovation, Young Innovators Next Steps follow on funding, or Innovate UK Award: Build

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that:

  • involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • involve primary production in agriculture
  • have activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not eligible to receive Minimal Financial Assistance
  • are dependent on export performance, for example, giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example, if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Innovate UK have allocated up to £4 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Your total project costs will be 100% funded. Total project costs detailed within your application must not exceed the £75,000 grant funding amount. If your total project costs do exceed the maximum then your application will be made ineligible.

If successful, the grant funding will be paid in two instalments:​

  • 90% paid upfront in December 2024​
  • 10% paid post project end, upon approval of the final claim, independent accountant report (IAR) and project close form (PCF)

You can make reference to any additional voluntary contribution in your application answers. It must not be detailed in the finance section.

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.